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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices ]

System Cache

The system cache is responsible for a great deal of the system performance improvement of today's PCs. The cache is a buffer of sorts between the very fast processor and the relatively slow memory that serves it. (The memory is not really slow, it's just that the processor is much faster.) The presence of the cache allows the processor to do its work while waiting for memory far less often than it otherwise would.

There are in fact several different "layers" of cache in a modern PC, each acting as a buffer for recently-used information to improve performance, but when "the cache" is mentioned without qualifiers, it normally refers to the "secondary" or "level 2" cache that is placed between the processor and system RAM. The various levels of cache are discussed here, in the discussion on the theory and operation behind cache (since many of the principles are the same). However, most of the focus of this section is on the level 2 system cache.

Next: Role of Cache in the PC

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